Google Glass Should Be Banned Behind the Wheel, State Assemblyman Says

By Gustavo Solis on January 13, 2014 4:01pm 

 Assemblyman Felix W. Ortiz, of Brooklyn, introduced legislation to outlaw the use of the tech giant's wearable computer while driving, saying it's just as dangerous as a cellphone, his office announced Monday.
Assemblyman Felix W. Ortiz, of Brooklyn, introduced legislation to outlaw the use of the tech giant's wearable computer while driving, saying it's just as dangerous as a cellphone, his office announced Monday.
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BROOKLYN — Google Glass can give you turn-by-turn directions to wherever you need to go — but a state lawmaker is fighting to ban the device behind the wheel.

Assemblyman Felix W. Ortiz, of Brooklyn, introduced legislation to outlaw the use of the tech giant's wearable computer while driving, saying it's just as dangerous as a cellphone, his office announced Monday.

"I will continue the fight to keep our highways safe as I have done for many years,” said Ortiz, who referred to Google Glass as "extremely dangerous technology." 

Ortiz was also responsible for spearheading a bill in 2001 to outlaw the use of handheld cellphones while driving. He hopes the new legislation will expand the existing law to include Google's high-tech specs, he said.

Ortiz cited the case of a California woman who was ticketed for speeding while wearing the $1,500 glasses in October as an example of why this legislation is needed.

The woman, Cecilia Abadie, posted her ticket online, asking for legal advice.

“The exact line says: Driving with Monitor visible to Driver (Google Glass),” she wrote on her Google+ account. “Is #GoogleGlass ilegal [sic] while driving or is this cop wrong???”

Abadie's citation was for violating California Vehicle Code Section 27602, which says that drivers cannot watch television or video signals other than dashboards, navigation systems, and back-up cameras. 

Abadie pleaded not guilty in traffic court in December. A local judge will hear her case sometime this month, according to the San Diego Union-Tribune.

Google Glass is not available to the general public and is still considered a developmental product. The gadget is being tested by a select group of tech-savvy people in the Google Explorer program, a company spokesman said.

"Above all, even when you're following the law, don't hurt yourself or others by failing to pay attention to the road," the company said in a message to Google Explorers. "The same goes for bicycling: whether or not any laws limit your use of Glass, always be careful."

Google Glass has the potential to make driving safer, not more dangerous, the Google spokesman said.

An app called DriveSafe, created by developer Jake Steinerman, keeps drivers awake, alert, and informed while behind the wheel, the spokesman said. By simply saying, "OK Glass, keep me awake," the Glass wearer gets audible alerts if Google Glass senses that the driver is dozing off behind the wheel.

"I think those trying to ban Glass while driving stems from a fear of the unknown," said Steinerman, who said he regularly drives while wearing his Google Glass. "It's understandable for people to be fearful of new technology, that is natural. I invite any and all those who are calling for Glass to be banned to try it before making snap judgments."

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